Friday Link: iTunesU

I have been traveling a lot in recent years, and my iPod and laptop have become my most constant and consistent companions. Accordingly, I turn to them a great deal for entertainment, but rather than playing games or listening always to music, I follow a great number of podcasts, from the purely educational to short-fiction pieces. Here in Ethiopia, I have no chances to take courses, so I have really come to appreciate iTunesU, a joint project of Apple and a variety of universities, comprising lecture series and even full courses. This is a great way to kill time on extended journeys and allows one to be aware of some of the scholarly work being presented at institutions far way.

Though there are several impressive universities participating, including MIT, the Open University, and Texas A&M, I have so far only had a chance to listen to the Humanities offerings of Stanford and Yale.  Stanford, from what I have sampled, is doing a much better job of presenting interesting material, selecting from their excellent lecture series (which I have fond memories of attending while an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz), whereas Yale Humanities seems, for the most part, to be producing pieces with advertising and alumni relations in mind, which I do not find very interesting. I have even been listening to two whole courses, an intro to the humanities course on the Literature of Crisis and an excellent course on the Historical Jesus. When I again have access to a fast internet connection, I will look deeper into Stanford’s catalogue as well as expanding the number of universities sampled, but I both highly approve and recommend iTunesU for the independent learner and scholar alike.

I’m trying to get the Friends of the Library of the Pontifical Institute for Mediaeval Studies to start recording and podcasting its lecture series–get out there and work on your institution!

There are two things you should remember before taking off on a trip: 1) you need iTunes (the podcasts interface manages the content) 2) read the syllabus and bring the readings.

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